Results tagged ‘ Opening Day ’
Three states. Four trains. Just over four hours.
It took awhile, but we made it to Citizens Bank Park on Friday afternoon for the Phillies’ first game of the 2011 season against the Houston Astros. And, as an extra, added bonus, we would be sitting with fellow Campers and having a reunion/after-party at the park’s Diamond Club.
Unfortunately, because of the Eagles-like weather, it seemed a lot of folks made some last minute cancellations, based on the number of empty seats around us.
One person that did fill his seat in our section was Phillies great, Larry Christenson. What struck me about this was that at Game 6 of the NLCS last season, Christenson again, sat only a couple rows in front of us, in a completely different part of the ballpark. One more time Larry and I’m going to start think you are stalking me.
(On a side note, Larry was the starting pitcher of my first ever Phillies game at Veterans Stadium in 1982. I have no idea if they won or lost… it doesn’t matter.)
I had every intention of taking a lot of pictures to document the day. After snapping a few of the opening ceremonies, I decided to pack the camera away. The weather was brutal. My hands were best suited inside the pockets of my down jacket. They did make an appearance to clap for each of Roy Halladay’s six strikeouts.
The weather didn’t improve, ex-Phillie Brett Myers was out-pitching Halladay, the Phillies’ bats continued right where they left off at the end of ’10, and by the seventh inning, they were losing 4-0. The in the Diamond Club after the game couldn’t come soon enough.
The golden orb in the sky, struggling to make an appearance, finally broke through the cloud in the ninth inning. Then, this happened:
Sam, a friend who I met at Camp, sitting next to me, took this video. After his fantastic video of DeSean Jackson’s miracle punt return last December, Sam knows when to film that Decisive Moment.
Thank you John Mayberry Jr. We can run to the warmth of the Diamond Club now. I can finally have a cold beer and bask in the glow of the Phillies first win of the season.
Three of my former Driller teammates, Nick, Lee, and Connie, were in attendance. We shared laughs. We reminisced. And in only three months, our hits went farther and our plays more dramatic. I can’t imagine what they will be like by next January.
Later, ex-Phillie and Phantasy Camp Legend Tommy Greene made an appearance at the Diamond Club. Greene was the first Legend I spotted when I arrived at the hotel back in January. Sitting poolside, I caught sight Tommy ordering a round of beers from across the tiki bar… so yes, this was just like Camp all over again.
During the reunion, I had the pleasure of finally meeting the only female player at the Camp, Martha Eyerly. The Drillers never had the opportunity to play against her team, so this was the first time I got to speak to Martha. She mentioned how she also wanted to keep a diary/blog of her time down in Clearwater. I, for one, would love to read a 2012 Martha Eyerly Phillies Phantasy Camp Diary, especially if it involves her throwing out Mickey Morandini at first base during the Legends game again.
We decided to make our exit and Sam generously gave my wife and I a ride back as far as Jersey City. We spent the car ride catching up and discussing our possible return to Phantasy Camp for 2012.
Based just on the relationships made in that short time, you can probably count me in.
As always, my dad was on my mind this day. The one and only time he and I attended a game at Citizens Bank Park was back during the park’s inaugural season of 2004. It was in July, but the weather was unseasonably cool and overcast. We sat in the nosebleeds, directly above where we were sitting today. The walk up to our seats was eerily familiar. I was convinced it wasn’t just the weather that created a certain coldness and dreamlike loneliness for me. There was definitely something off.
But just like that game in 2004, the sun eventually came out for us. And the Phillies won.
And all was right with the world again.
Tommy Greene (RHP, 1990-95): “One of my best memories of opening day happened in 1993 at the Astrodome in Houston. I arrived at the Astrodome early because of the excitement of the season starting and getting ready early for BP. As soon as I got dressed, I went down to the field, which was a hike at the Astrodome. I was by myself out in front of the dugout watching the Astros’ BP when Jim Fregosi stuck his head out from the tunnel and said ‘Tommy, I need to talk to you upstairs!’ First thought in my mind was that I had been sent down or traded but I thought that I had probably one of the best springs of anybody and why would they send me down. All these thoughts were going through my head all the way up the stairs and back to the clubhouse. When I arrived back to the clubhouse I noticed that everyone else had arrived and for some reason everyone was seating in the chairs facing the center of the clubhouse where a chair was placed. Jim then instructed me to sit down in the chair and I looked at everyone and then back at him and said ‘I am not going to sit there in that chair because I don’t trust anyone in this room and that no one was going to put me in that chair.’ I said that because everyone knew April 6th was my birthday. He finally got me to sit down with some encouraging from Lee Thomas and instructed the clubhouse guys to open the main door. A young lady that was dressed as a nurse entered the room, did a dance for me, bent down a whispered in my ear and said, ‘Happy Birthday from your family at home!’ Everyone got the biggest kick out of that and said I had the best family in the world. I think it really loosened us up and jump started the season. Everyone came down to the field laughing. Best part, we started the season real good.”
Greg Luzinski (OF, 1970-80): “Hitting a home run in the 1980 home opener against the Expos at the Vet. Little did we know at the time what was in store for us that October.”
Mickey Morandini (2B, 1990-97; 2000): “Has to be seeing Mike Ryan catch a ball dropped from a helicopter. I know I couldn’t have done that.”
Kevin Stocker (SS, 1993-97): “My most memorable moment wasn’t on opening day but my very first game in the big leagues. We beat the Dodgers in 20 innings at the Vet.”